The Wave Muscat : Honorary Site Visit!

I’ve been wanting to do this forever. And I apologise that I’ve been away for almost two months (for something called college/architecture school). Maybe I can get better at blogging during the academic year. Maybe.

Visiting The Wave Muscat (TWM), Oman’s first luxury residences has been on my Summer 2014 list of things-to-do (visit). Let’s be real, it takes a huge pot of gold coins in order to be able to live here. But luxury is luxury and that’s what makes visiting luxury even more irresistible!

This summer, during my ATKINS internship, I had the brilliant opportunity to work on The Wave Retail Center, which happened to be my maiden project- and I have mentioned it here earlier. Somewhere between corresponding with our Wave client, and working on the construction documents for the building, I longed to visit the actual site while the building was 80% through construction. And so, my last week of the summer – mid-August- I finally made it.

So here’s a rendering of the property that comes up in newspaper advertisements- supplied by ATKINS.

The Wave Retail Center at night.

The Wave Retail Center at night.

Although,  it gets even more special to see the work of your hands in real life.

Under construction.

The Walk (avenue of the Center) under construction)

The Walk (avenue of the Center) under construction)

 

 

 

 

 

Snapshots from a car on the move.

Entrance to parking garage

Visit to the Retail Center

Visit to the Retail Center

 

Everything from the pointed arches and stone cladding to the wooden screens and roofs and the avenue of date palms, resonated with familiarity, so much so that I decided to explore more Wave projects.

It’s time to look at what makes The Wave, the Wave : its luxury residence, newer ones I spotted, growing by artificial catchments.

Driving through luxury.

Driving through luxury.

Because water makes homes more scenic.

Because water makes homes more scenic.

 

 

 

 

 

A villa close-up.

A villa close-up.

Homes on the rise.

Homes on the rise.

 

 

 

 

 

And the newest addition to the The Wave? Neat apartment blocks just by the marina.

Oman's finest apartments.

Oman’s finest apartments.

Right towards the Almouj marina!

Right towards the Almouj marina!

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s what they may end up looking like : courtesy : ATKINS

The Wave Apartments by the Almouj Marina

The Wave Apartments by the Almouj Marina

Even a Kemplinski hotel (not pictured) is making its way here. But the Marsa waterfront apartments are a definite visit.

By the Kemplinski.

By the Kemplinski.

Home to OmanSail boats!

Home to OmanSail boats!

 

 

 

 

 

Just as it is in the rendering (courtesy : ATKINS)!

Marsa seems the place to be!

Marsa seems the place to be!

 

Undeniably so, The Wave Muscat, replete with waterfront apartments, luxury villas, a retail center, marina, golf course, and soon, a hotel — is bound to manifest itself as the continually happening madinat (Arab town) in the most modern sense possible! And one day, I can’t wait to go back and work on one of its indefinite projects again. 😀

My father and I admire a Marsa block from across the Almouj marina.

My father and I admire a Marsa block from across the Almouj marina.

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Love at first Site

Intern profile: Aseel Elagib

Aseel, Urban Planning intern at Atkins

Aseel, Urban Planning intern at Atkins

Two weeks have gone by and boy, do I miss everything about working at Atkins. Be it the design and planning opportunities that come across my way for the sheer love of being busy or even just the sound of my clackety heels as they make frequent trips to the photocopier.

But before I move on to other intern conquests, I’d like to take a walk down memory lane back to Atkins, one more time. Here I’ll delve into a little more about my time with Urban Planning, and more so with a friend that I had made at work- a new intern to the Urban Planning Department, Aseel Elagib.

Brad of Urban Planning explores the Port of Sultan Qaboos schematically with us.

Brad of Urban Planning explores the Port of Sultan Qaboos schematically with us.

Into my last week at Atkins, the Discipline Head of Urban Planning, Brad- was kind enough to give Aseel and I, a crash training on the subject of Port Redevelopment through the process of site analysis and thereafter masterplan phase- implementation. Don’t you worry, I can start to explain these!

Our site was none other than the beautiful Port Sultan Qaboos, Oman’s main commercial port, home to even the Sultan’s ships. So really the first step we explored was the project vision and site context- that His Majesty no longer wanted purely a commercial port; and also that it had to be grand enough to stand to compete with the UAE’s superior ports. Another related step was identifying the possible stakeholders and getting in touch with them- such as the Ministries of Tourism, Fisheries, Transport and Communication, etc.

Peek into the Port's look on one of the Omani notes.

Peek into the Port’s look on one of the Omani notes.

This continued to help us identify the basic urban fabric of the area- the heritage neighbourhood of Old Muttrah, navigation channels, security for the Royal Yacht, petrochemical exports, the touristy views of the Muscat Corniche etc, and accordingly suggest redevelopment strategies such as possible widening of existing berths, cruise opportunities, improving parking facilities in such a narrow, populated area, upgrading of the waterfront promenade, pedestrian allowances, you name it.

The beautiful Corniche Muscat

The beautiful Corniche Muscat

Indeed, lot of foresight goes into such a task, especially when you have the ultimate power to make or break a city’s economy with the uphill task of remastering its main port. Nothing can be overlooked, everything from economics to politics to climate must be considered. And one must never forget to always give anything the benefit of doubt, in other words, question any strategy before it actually gets implemented and affects the city’s population. For example, a few stakeholders wondered how the problem of our ultra-intense Middle Eastern heat could be solved. Our answer? Sunscreens for building façades, parking shades and vegetation can always do the job. A neat job, that too.

Our very own Port Sultan Qaboos

Our very own Port Sultan Qaboos- the released masterplan proposals, courtesy : ATKINS

The masterplanthe statutory land use plan that guides the redevelopment of the project, the Port of Sultan Qaboos, in this case- is always subject to various modifications- not just because of design but how it turns out to mesh well with the rest of the existing landscape- and that’s why implementation for redevelopment has to happen in phases and never all at once! In our case especially, not just wave engineering needs to be considered but also how a modern interpretation of a local and traditional Omani flavour can be integrated.

Aseel studies a port masterplan.

Aseel studies a port masterplan.

Aseel, who grew up in Canada but is originally from Sudan, is in her final year of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at the German University of Technology here in Oman. Like Sarah Elnafie, she wished to be a dentist but an urban planning course in high school changed everything. She’s also gotten to visit the Port with Atkins and other sub-consultants. Here’s what she has to say about her time at Atkins so far

“As the years went by, I noticed that my interest slightly swerved towards urban planning rather than architecture. I think this is because working on the urban scale doesn’t limit my imagination and design as much as in the architectural scale. I still love to do both, but urban got my complete interest. I’ve only worked in Atkins for 3 weeks now, and I love the team I’m working with so far. They’re dedicated, ambitious, and love the work they’re doing. Working with them so far has expanded my knowledge, and I learned from them that you have to be patient and driven at the same time in order to get the work done. On Monday the 21st of July, I went on a site visit to PSQ with the project co-ordinator,Dave. It was an amazing experience to be able to visit the site and to see for real what we’re working with. It was Atkins, and 6 other companies competing for the site, or teaming up. I met great people, and visiting the site deficiently gave me an understanding as to what was previously talked about in the master plan”.

What more can I say? I stepped into an Atkins to work for building design, but got to help out with redeveloping the city- so much more! Like Aseel, my attention too has been arrested greater with Urban Planning now. It’s things like these that make an internship even more rewarding and I can’t thank Atkins enough!

Of Maps and Compasses

Weekend at Barka with family and friends

Weekend at Barka with family and friends

The weekend that just went by…was oh-so-relaxing. Family, the sun and the sea have always proven to be a healthy combination in my life. And so it was, these last few days- as my oddball of a family journeyed an hour west of Muscat, with other families for a fun sleepover at a remote farmhouse in the agricultural desert (coastal) town of Barka.

Muscat-Barka route

Muscat-Barka route

Yes, agricultural and desert. Those words go together here! Desert farmers grow their date palms, their pomegranates, roses and rear their mountain goats, Arabian horses and camels here in utter bliss. Barka is only an hour’s drive west of Muscat, the capital.

 In a young small country like this, where landmarks rule and not postal addresses or numbered streets, coastal deserts are the everyday life. And oases are a respite reality.

Follow the goat!

Follow the goat!

At the farmhouse, while the rest of the group dilly-dallied in the swimming pool, my sister-in-crime and I played truant and sped out the gates in search of the beach, with our lone tool, a Google Maps app with slow data connectivity on her smartphone. What we ended up with instead was a neat geology lesson. Following the tracks of a stray goat in the sand, we soon arrived at an area which could only be described as one replete with coastal vegetation in arid areas filled with calcareous rocks. How do I know this? The beach was still a few kilometers away but you could sure see the remnants of sea shells embedded in the sediments! A skill (environmental analysis), I sure learnt from site visits!

Carbonate rocks

Carbonate rocks

My other favourite part of the trip, however was getting behind the wheel of my father’s Land Cruiser Prado (the typical desert SUV you see in this region). Intimidating did it seem for me to drive a car significantly bigger than mine, but the traveller woman in me got comfortable in a few minutes with her driving song favourite- Rihanna’s Shut Up and Drive. One thing, however was we were lost in no time!

Barka Fort

Barka Fort

Much as I love getting lost, Google Maps acts like a terrible long-distance relationship when you’re in Oman. It’ll work for you oh-so-well especially in Kansas, but when you leave miles away for Oman, it refuses to really show you roads- GPS is no-show here in the Sultanate. And that’s when I stumbled upon this fortified gem with crenellations and turrets of utter Omani architectural simplicityBarka Fort– in the middle of nowhere, literally. I had absolutely no time to explore it on the inside, but I made my passengers take these few photos en route.

Barka Fort

Barka Fort

Soon, other architectural skills came in handy. Recognition of buildings on the scene, mental mapping of possible routes and maintaining a sense of direction- helped me get us back on track to our ever elusive farmhouse!

Losing yourself is….well, sort of, important.

Matters of Construction Safety

Portugal’s terrible performance and high possibility of elimination from the FIFA World Cup’14 Brasil within the first round, is not the only thing that’s worrying me, this week.

Gaping hole in the road in the Camilia parking lot

Gaping hole in the road in the Camilia parking lot

As I returned home from work this evening, I discovered a serious construction hazard by the pavement of the parking lot between the buildings of CBD, Muscat, where I live. Some unknown construction has been taking place within the parking lot- and by that, I mean- hardly any residents are aware of what or why dustbin/ post box- looking things are being erected atop a platform, ‘conveniently’ covering five valuable parking spaces, in the city’s busiest business district where parking is an hourly headache.

The exposed iron bar.

The exposed iron bar.

What bothered me even more, is the ominous presence of an exposed iron bar just by the Pay Parking pole. Obviously, this runs the risk of people unsuspectingly enough, alighting from their parked vehicles and for no fault of theirs, running into a construction hazard.

Atkins takes health and safety very seriously and they critically review and ensure that their contractors comply with the approved method statement. We choose to thus be, Safe by Choice.

Accident waiting to happen.

Accident waiting to happen.

Maybe, the iron bar-in-parking-lot situation could be solved by following a better practice of perimeter protection of the construction site by using signage to warn pedestrians and motorists alike. I took these photographs after I cautiously turned the iron bar 180 degrees around so that its protruding end would point towards the site instead of towards the cars.

Stay alert and safe, people!